Graduates transition from classroom to careers

When Ray Ocampo started classes at UNLV, he assumed he would jump straight into a job after graduation. That wasn’t the case.

“Most places these days are not just looking for someone with a degree,” said Ocampo, who studied finance and graduated last spring. “They want someone with experience, but it’s hard to get that entry-level experience.”

In his first year of college, he worked a few jobs to make money for leisure on the weekends, but by his second year, he realized that, in many ways, the job hunt had to begin long before graduation.

“I realized I needed experience, so I started working jobs where I could get it and learn the skills that I could apply to the job I was trying to get,” Ocampo said. “I needed to prepare myself for being an adult in the workplace. I started building and beefing up my resume.”

When he graduated, he was working full time in an internship as a research assistant at Senteo, a bank consultant company. He put his name out to as many places as he could and continued trying to learn anything that could be applied to his profession.

“There’s definitely some challenges there,” he said. “You have to compete not just with your graduating class but everyone who’s still trying to find a job.”

He kept in touch with his fellow graduates, and they shared job tips and leads. At the end of August, he was hired to be an accountant at a major Strip resort.

“I did know some people who worked there, and they put in a good word for me after I applied,” he said. “I think that helped me get that first and second interview.”

Only three weeks passed between the end of Ocampo’s internship and the beginning of his new job.

The path to work was a little different for Jordan Bondurant, who graduated from UNLV in 2013.

“I was very fortunate,” the theater major said. “When you finish grad school at UNLV, they give you a showcase in L.A. and New York. I ended up getting signed by Abrams Artists Agency, one of the best in the city.”

He moved to New York in the fall and took a job in real estate while he pursued acting positions.

“As an actor, you have to have what we call survival jobs,” he said. “My roommate was a bartender. I tried real estate, and it was a lot tougher than I expected. I was on my feet all day in winter in New York.”

He was booked to perform in “Mamma Mia!” by February, and after rehearsals and workshops, he was back in Las Vegas in April performing the show at the Tropicana.

“I played Sky, the fiance of Sophie, who’s kind of the main character.”

He had hoped for a longer run, but the show closed in August.

“A lot of the job is being in the right place at the right time,” Bondurant said. “When the show closed, I took a couple weeks on a road trip and then headed back to New York.”

Bondurant is rehearsing an off-Broadway musical called “The Underclassman,” based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s college years at Princeton. He is set to play the head of a fraternity who mentors the future author.

Contact East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at ataylor@viewnews.com or 702-380-4532.

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